Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Thing

The Thing

I have a whole not-quite-meeting-Paddy-Marber story that I could tell, but since the story is pretty much summed up in that sentence* I'm going to turn to something much more exciting. Namely, and I have to say thank you to Penny for alerting me to this, Channel Four's forthcoming series The Play's The Thing. Reality television for playwrights. Does television get any better than that?

Seriously, it's a great impetus for me to bash out The Four Right Chords when I've finished finals. I'd intended to do that anyway, but a deadline always helps. Plus it does give me the scope to make the play 'bigger' than I would have had I been hawking it around the new writing schemes at various theatres. I'll undoubtedly end up writing the smaller version and hawking it around, but some artistic freedom to imagine the bigger version might throw up interesting possibilities that I otherwise would have automatically closed off.

Regardless on pulling my attention in a particular direction I actually think this is a great idea. And not just for selfish reasons. Because I'm realistic about this and I know that my entry will be one in thousands. But it's exciting because new writing very, very rarely goes to the West End proper. Neil LaBute's Some Girls opens this week**, but that's about all you're getting. And getting a play performed professionally is difficult enough. So to go from nothing to West End? That's huge. Plus, and I'm being selfish here again, I'll love watching the show. They've sucked me in with the Hamlet allusion already.

And since I'm here it should probably be noted that as well as all the Spamalot nominations**** in the Tonys, two cracking new writing National Theatre productions have been nominated for best play - Michael Frayn's Democracy and Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman. I'd rate Frayn's Copenhagan as being in my top three twentieth century plays and whilst I wouldn't put Democracy quite as highly, it's definitely in the same bracket. Who'd have thought German politics would be absolutely fascinating? I saw The Pillowman when it was in Oxford last term and I still get scared thinking about it. I do think that whoever at the BBC labelled it "comedy drama" hasn't seen the play. Oh yes you laugh. There are funny bits. But putting the word "comedy" anywhere near a play that deals with child torture and murder seems slightly misleading. This is what you get with the license fee*****.

*I'm hoping to achieve the actual meeting bit next Thursday. Yep, on my fourth day of finals. I'm going to be lovely and coherent.

**Now this may just be me but doesn't the plot of this play - guy goes to see lots of old girlfriends - sound a lot like Nick Hornby's*** - guy goes to see lots of old girlfriends - High Fidelity?

***I love Nick Hornby. If I could only read ten books for the rest of my life one of them would be Fever Pitch. What can I say, there's a lot of parrallels between supporting a football team and stalking, sorry, supporting a singer.

****Yes, I'd love to see Spamalot. I like the Monty Python boys. But, if you've followed my blog entry titles you'll already know that.

*****Ok, not my license fee since I don't have a tv in Oxford. Your license fee.


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. I have extracted some of the more worrying language from the Terms section of 'The Play's the Thing." Regarding the following paragraph: do they hold copyright on your whole play, or just the bits you submit? Is it exclusive? Can anyone understand that sentence?

Also, are they intending to be all Idolish and use really bad submissions to make fun of on air?

Calling a law student:

By entering "The Play's The Thing" the Entrants agree that they hereby assign irrevocably with full title guarantee the copyright (where necessary by way of present assignment of future copyright) and all other rights title and interest of any kind whether now known or to be devised (including without limitation so-called rental, lending, cable and satellite retransmission rights and performers' property rights) in an to the Entrant's Participation and all material created by the Entrant in connection with the Programme or this agreement or ancillary to the Participation (other than the Submission save for a non-exclusive licence hereby granted by the Entrant to the Company entitling the Company to include in the Programme such parts of the Submission or elements or adaptations thereof as it deems necessary to produce the Programme on the same terms as this assignment herein in respect of the Participation) throughout the world for the full period of copyright and all extensions and renewals thereof and thereafter in perpetuity in all formats and/or media now known or to be devised. Entrants hereby expressly and irrevocably waive in perpetuity all so-called moral rights in relation thereto and acknowledge and agree that the remuneration and/or consideration payable hereunder is an equitable pre-payment of any sums which may subsequently become due to the Entrant in respect of exploitation of such rental, lending or other rights. The Entrant will at the Producers' request execute and sign all documents and do all acts and things necessary to secure all the rights granted hereunder.

The Company may disqualify any Submission and/or be entitled to refuse to pay and/or recover any sums paid pursuant and/or due to "The Play's The Thing" in the event of in the opinion of the Producers:
(i) failure by such Entrant to provide proof of eligibility upon request by the Company; or
(ii) the Entrant's fraud or dishonesty;
(iii) any breach by the Entrant of the Terms and Conditions.

In the event of any such disqualification and non-payment and/or recovery the Company shall remain entitled to all rights granted to it by the Entrant as set out in the Terms and Conditions.

If there is any material fact about an Entrant or prospective Entrant (including but not limited to existing medical conditions) which may in the opinion of the Company jeopardise or otherwise impact on the Programme, which might result in publicity adverse to the good name of the Company, the Programme or "The Play's The Thing", the Entrant will be liable to disqualification and/or to forfeit any money paid or due to it subject at all times and in all circumstances it being acknowledged that the Company shall be retain all rights granted to it by the Entrant herein

Corinne said...

Yep, I got midway through reading the contract and then thought that my head might implode. Their FAQ's state that the entrant keeps the rights, but I'm pernickity about small print at the best of times so I'm not submitting anything until I know how much of my life I'm agreeing to give away.